Toothache Closes Killer Whale Lolita Show

KEY BISCAYNE (CBS4) — South Florida marine super star Lolita the Killer Whale is feeling a bit under the weather.

 The star attraction at the Miami Seaquarium is “being treated for a tooth infection, a recurrence of a dental issue she had in 1994,” according to a statement from the popular marine theme park. “The whale stadium at Miami Seaquarium is temporarily closed. Although she is not performing shows, she is eating normally and being treated with antibiotics,” said the statement.

Lolita, the oldest killer whale in captivity, was born around 1966. She has spent most of her life at the Seaquarium since her capture in 1970. The 7,000 pound whale has lived in the 20-foot deep tank for 40 years, performing twice a day for South Florida tourists.

For years, activists have been trying to convince the Seaquarium to retire Lolita and release her back into the waters of the Pacific Northwest where she was originally captured, but her handlers and theme park owners say her life would be endangered if she were freed after so many years in captivity.

  • Dr Oz

    Too many sweet children stuck to Lolita’s teeth

    • Vicki Sawyer

      you are a sick man

  • sjiorca

    This is not good news for Lolita these can lead to whole body infections then death. It’s happened many times over. I really hope she lives to make it back home where she belongs!

    • Megan

      Hm, wow. You obviously want her to die really bad then don’t you? SHe’s too old now to go back. She doesnt know how to hunt, her pod may or may not accept her. They need to just build her a bigger tank or sell her to one of the Sea Worlds either in San Antonio, Orlando, or San Diago becuase they have the facilities to care for her and give her more space, not to mention contact with other whales.

  • Anita

    To have this whale in captivity is one bad thing. To not let her go to a sea pen is another one. How can people look upon and see this beautiful animal in this little dump of water? Mr. Hertz, you’re making me sick.

  • Howard Garrett

    Her life is in danger where she is. The proposal for her retirement would be completely safe and would provide her the chance for a long healthy life and contact with her family.

    • Debra Devorah Gottesman

      Absolutely in accord w/ Mr. Garrett

    • Vicki Sawyer

      Why can’t they see how important it is to bring her home – she’s done more time than most killers in our country have done in prison!!

  • Emms Daniels

    what a load of crap, how the hell can her life be in danger if she was released, they are only saying that coz they dont want to lose thier money maker :( FREE LOLITA

    • Versteven Christel

      When you ask this question to any Marine park, they only answer they’ll give you is, ‘look at what happend with Keiko’. I don’t know which program they had in those years, but it seems there’s a new program out which helps Killer whales or any other marine mammal to adjust to wild again. It’ll take some time, but eventually it should work. With Lolita they know where her pod is, so it shouldn’t be so hard. From what i read, Killer whales will always recognize their young. Or other relatives. The Marine parks just look for excuses. And to people who don’t have any idea of what really is going on behind the scenes, it’s not a good thing. They don’t like the people whom are trying to get marine mammals released. They don’t understand it. These matters should be tought in schools. How cruel captivity really is.

    • Megan

      She WILL die just like Keiko.It’s people like you who got that poor whale killed over what? Ignorance. Stupidity. Get over your silly, childhood dreams.

    • Naomi Anderson

      They cannot release Lolita back to the sea. Yes it is wishful thinking but it cannot be done, instead we will be sending her to her death, The best option is to send her to a facility where they have a larger pool for her, and other whales for her to interact with. And to a facility where they have the materials needed to care for her properly.
      The other reason whey they cannot release her is because as soon as an animal has human care, they can never be released becasue they will forever see humans as a way to get food.

  • Rae Benson

    Who do NONE of the journalists reporting NEVER mention a seapen but are ALWAYS sure to put in the Hertz opinion that she will die if freed.
    NOONE is trying to free her …only retire her to a seapen.

    Journalists mis-represent ….ONCE AGAIN!!!!

  • Angie

    So sad to think this pooor animal has been reduced to 20 ft deep tank for that long!!! Really despicable – humans!

  • awispr

    You’re not listening Mr. Hertz! Lolita deserves a peaceful retirement, free from her prison cell, disguised as a fish bowl. She needs to be in a sea pen. Away from the crowds, with a healthy diet, room to swim in a straight line, and dive deeper than she is long. She has earned a retirement with dignity. Consider the ramifications if she were to perish in her lonely, ugly, depressing tank…If you don’t act now you will have the blood of a aged, and lonely intelligent animal on your hands. You do have a heart, don’t you Mr. Hertz?

    • Vicki Sawyer

      Mr Hertz does not have a heart – only a money pit.

      • Bridget


  • Andrea Knappen Neault

    Since her capture in 1970….how sad that she may die after all. Close the show permanently.

  • Tia Lurie

    This statement is highly unlikely to be the truth since it comes from the sane people that hid the death of Hollywood from public eyes for over a month with statements alleging that the dolphin had been moved to Dolphin Harbor. IF Lolita is alive then she needs to be released to her seapen retirement plan as soon as she’s able to be transfered. Infections don’t take long to clear up provided they’re correctly maintained in a safe and healthy environment. It’s doubtable that Lolita is being kept in clean conditions given the fact that she’s been kept in complety disgusting and inadequate ones since 1970. Its time to do the right thing and let her go Mr Hertz!

  • Rae Benson

    They need to prove she’s still alive with an “eyes-on verificiation” from a “credible” source. I don’t believe a word from Miami Seaquarium without proof. Orcas are rarely sick this long (except right before death) and she has never been removed from the show for this long …for 40 years!! Something is wrong and Miami Seaquarium needs to cough up the truth …for once

  • Anita Murray Cook

    Okay Miami Seaquarium, you say you can not set Lolita free because she has been in captivity much too long. There you said it with your own mouth! She has been in captivity too long, now do not forget that you said those words and I will not either. In fact, you do know that she has a seapen already for her in her native water’s of Washington and close to her family do you not? And do you not know that she has care giver’s to feed her just like and better than you do, with out performing. And do you not know that she will be taken care of there for as long as she lives and with the freedom to swim to depth’s she does not even know exist right now but would learn quickly? Yes, you do know this. The reason you keep her now more than anything is because she is a “star” for sure now with all the publicity she is getting, then so are you! Shame on you Mr. Hertz. You do not care about this Orca, not at all or else you would do the “right” thing and retire her to her seapen. You are a sorry excuse for a human being and you will have to answer for your crime against nature one day!

  • Ian Brash

    I’ve heard sociopaths sleep real well at night ….how do you sleep Mr. Hertz?

  • sam

    41 YEARS in prison – what was the crime again? Oh right greedy people and the ignorant ones that continue to perpetuate this industry.

  • JV

    Last week on CBS regarding orca teeth, and more.

  • Debbie

    Have a heart. Let this beautiful creature live the rest of her life in relative happiness. She has lined your pockets for long enough. Let he go.

  • Mikey Shanley

    20 foot deep tank. Think about that. That isn’t particularly deep for the average human who doesn’t depend on water as a habitat to actively swim in; let alone an orca whale who’s life is in water and is around three times our length. Pathetic.

    Also, it’s not like her leaving Miami would mean that she is released in to the wild for better or worse. There is a complete business plan drawn up for her that includes a sea-pen. Furthermore, don’t tell me that we already tried this once back in the Free Willy days and it didn’t work. The facts are different and the conditions are different. when has science and/or anyone ever tried something once, had it not necessarily pan out the way they wanted and simply use that as definitive evidence that no whale can be taken from captivity and back into the wild? With all the awareness about whales and dolphins that are erupting into the media (The Cove, Whale Wars, Sea World Orca attacks and kills a trainer), I think its about time we stop believing that we shouldn’t experiment with this idea.

    Look at how many people are against that sea prison. Shame on Hertz for continuing to ignore what is right.

    • Megan

      I understand your concern, Mikey. I really really do. Being in that small tank is stressful and obviously horrible. I just dont think setting her free is the right answer. I hope maybe they could sell her to Sea World, because they have the means to take care of whales properly with bigger tanks and treatments. And she could be with the other whales, that’s the important thing to me.

  • Linda

    Miami Seaquarium is a PIMP and every visitor that goes to watch these horrific shows are the JOHNS – selfishly getting a kick at another creature’s pain.

    Let Lolita go home to her family already! She still calls out for them when the crowds are gone and she floats to the bottom and cries in boredom. LEARN the truth of what you are paying for, watch poor Lolita’s story about how her family members were murdered, her being captured as a baby and now force to do shows in 31 years of isolation, in a space that for us would be relative to the size of a bathtub. I would never wish that on any child, let alone a beautiful and magnificent sea creature.

    Don’t go to Maimi Seaquarium!

  • Cindy

    I hate marine parks and hope no one supports them for keeping this beautiful animal in captivity for so many years only to ‘perform’ for money. How utterly disgusting.
    All so they can make a buck. WAKE UP PEOPLE. STOP GOING TO THESE THINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sandy

    Taking something that doesn’t belong to you doesn’t make it yours. It makes you a thief. Lolita belongs to the sea. Give her back Miami Seaquarium.

  • Gwen

    She belongs in a seapen, in her natural waters. You, Arthur Hertz, have no right to keep a sentient being from her true home. She does not belong to you, nor does she care for you or her trainers. What she needs is a large, open space in the ocean, with her biological family passing by.
    Her mother is still alive. There is still a chance to reunite them. Please.

  • Tucker



  • Marianne Lawless Kocher

    Lolita has done her time. She’s had no time off for good behavior. Now’s she’s ailing. She has a home to go to….she’s got people lining up to take care of her.
    Think of something besides fattening your wallet. Set Lolita Free.
    It’s been 40 years too long.


    Let her go, and put CARMEN BARAHONA, an her daaughter IN HER 20 foot pen…whom will be able to tell the difference.


    Maybe Rick Scorr could entertain them with his DONUT HOLES….

  • awispr

    I live 3000 miles away in California. But if I were there, I would find a way to get into the stadium, and chain myself to the bleachers! Who’s down there to do this?? Who’s gonna take the risk of arrest and get in there?

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